A Present & Personal Saviour What it means to know Christ
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2 v 20
Christianity is about knowing Christ. Many have their own perceptions of what it means to be a Christian. Even those who call themselves Christians have their own ideas. Once I was asked what I meant when I referred to Biblical Christianity? Well what that simply means is Christianity according to the Bible! Strip away all the differences seen among professing Christians, true Christians are those who believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour and follow not the traditions of men, but the teaching of the Bible. In this message I want to show you what it really means to be a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. My hope for this message is that if you say you’re a Christian you will find assurance through it or if it is the case that you have never truly trusted Christ and known His power in your life I pray you will be convicted and truly converted. To the nonbeliever I share this message to show what is at the heart of being a believer and hope in so doing you too may be won to the Saviour and begin to live a life of joy and liberty for His glory.
Let us consider two things from this text – The Power of Christ in me and The Love of Christ for me.
The Power of Christ in me
My Death with Him
The great truth at the heart of the gospel is that Christ died for sinners. The Cross and Jesus’ death there was on our behalf. He ‘died for our sins’ – 1 Cor 15 v 3. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus understands and appreciates the truth Paul states in this verse and which we will consider shortly, ‘the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’. The good news of the gospel is, that I can be forgiven, I can have acceptance with God. I can know the assurance of being in God presence forever all because the Lord Jesus ‘took my place and died for me’.
But before Paul states in this text the truth that ‘Jesus died for me’, he reminds us that ‘he died with him’. Says Paul, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’. When we believe in the Lord Jesus there are two sides to the experience of salvation. What He did for me and what the Cross does to me. To state it simply, when I embrace Christ and the power of the Cross I too die in order to live. I die to my old way of life, to all that I was as a sinner. The Lord Jesus not only died as my substitute, He also died as my representative. While we weren’t at the Cross literally and only Jesus died on the Cross actually, the point is this, all that man is as a sinner standing in Adam as part of a fallen race and under divine condemnation, God judged in His Son on the Cross. That God judged His Son instead of me is what brings salvation, but it also means that the old me, the sinning sinner, the rebel against God was in Christ judged and died at the Cross. Paul writes elsewhere, ‘Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin’ – Rom 6 vs 6-7. Albert Midlane (1825-1909) wrote:
My Adam standing He destroyed, and set my soul above The ruins of this wretched world – So boundless is his love! The new creation now is mine, by grace in it I stand, In resurrection power upheld, by God’s almighty hand.
Yes Jesus did it, did it all; He saved a worm like me; Nor will He rest till I am blest, And His full glory see.
Paul says, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live’ (KJV). The point in salvation is that it means death unto new life, eternal life, the power of resurrection life through Christ. This is why the power of the Cross is about redemption and freedom in the truest sense. We as sinners have nothing whatsoever to offer God nor can we in anyway contribute to our salvation. You cannot earn God’s favour or acceptance, it is ‘not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us’ – Titus 3 v 5. Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) said it well:
Not the labour of my hands Can fulfil Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, Helpless, look to Thee for grace: Vile, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
There are three things that salvation means for every believer.
A Transformed Life The old me is gone. As Paul writes, ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ – 2 Cor 5 v 17. In all honesty you wouldn’t think sometimes that such truth is true the way Christians behave toward others and among themselves at times. This is the challenge of the gospel it is to be lived not merely professed. Playing church is just pretend. God wants reality. Paul dealing with badly behaved Christians in Corinth wrote this: ‘Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified’ – 2 Cor 13 v 5.
A Separated Life In the world, but not of it. Paul says: ‘But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world – Gal 6 v 14. The great parting between a believer in the Lord Jesus and an unbelieving world happens at the Cross.
A Dedicated Life Again Paul tells us elsewhere: ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ – Rom 12 vs 1-2. This is not a call to special service, but the necessary response of every true believer.
His Life in me
Amazing are these words, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me’. Such truth almost defies human explanation. It means that Christ lives in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit and it means, and here is the point, every believer should reveal Christin their lives. The measurement of the reality of what it means to be a Christian is just how like Christ I am. And, the more I show Him, the more I demonstrate I have yielded myself to Him and know His power in me. His life in me tells us about two vital things we need to understand.
The Power of a Risen Saviour It is the power of risen Saviour who lives in me. This means I have been delivered from the power of sin. There is no point whatever in talking about being delivered from the power of sin and yet continuing to be the same old nasty me. There is something wrong when Christians want to live like, act like and look like the world they claim to be delivered from. Moreover, Christ in me is also
The Power of a Risen Lord Not only have I been delivered from the power of sin, but I have submitted my life to His Lordship and what characterizes such a life of submission is obedience to His word.
The Love of Christ for me
If we have thought about the power of Christ in me and therefore why He is a present Saviour, the beautiful truth we now consider briefly is the Love of Christ for me and the appreciation that He is a personal Saviour. Personal in the sense that He has personally brought each believer into relationship with Himself and therefore each same believer personally knows and appreciates Him. All that He has done for me and is doing in me is because I belong to Him and I belong to Him because of the greatness and demonstration of His love for me.
The believer in the Lord Jesus is such not out of fear or compulsion, but because their hearts have been won by and to the Son of God. Yes, even if the fear and dread of judgment drove someone to Christ for deliverance when they got saved from that point on it is a relationship of a won and willing heart. When the apostle Paul, who wrote these words, first encountered the risen Christ on the Damascus road he said two things: “Who are You, Lord?” and “Lord, what do You want me to do?” He left that scene of trembling and astonishment led like a child by the hand having been blinded by the light of Christ’s glory, but as time went on Paul soon was rejoicing in the greatness of Christ’s love. Those who trusted the Saviour at a very young age can sometimes struggle later when they get older because of what they come to know regarding salvation as opposed to what they did know the moment they trusted Christ. Two things to remember. Christ looks for childlike faith even in an adult – Matt 18 v 2 and from the simple seed of faith our relationship with Him and appreciation of His love for us grows even as we do. However, I won’t ever become safer or more secure in Christ with the passing of time. I was as safe in Him the moment I first believed as I will be when I arrive in His presence.
The Faithfulness of the Son of God
There is good reason to translate this statement as the New English Translation does: ‘I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God’. My faith is in the Son of God because He is for all of life and for all of eternity an entirely dependable, faithful Saviour. He won’t ever let you down and He won’t ever let you go because He can’t. He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” – John 10 vs 27-30.
The central truth of the gospel is the identity of who we are called to trust – the Son of God. A man yes, but no mere man. He is the man who is God. This is the uniqueness of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has only one Son.
The Love of the Son of God
His Love Realized Many have heard of the love of God, but how ever realize it personally? To be loved is to be valued. God put a premium on the salvation of sinners because every soul is of eternal value. The Bible says: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ – John 3 v 16. Paul knew the emancipating power of Christ’s love. He knew the sweetness of relationship with Christ. He knew the certainty of the love that would not let him go and so does every true believer.
His Love Demonstrated The highest possible expression of divine love is the sacrifice of the Son of God on Cross. The Lord Jesus paid the ultimate price to save sinners. Should no other sinners have existed other than one then He would have died for that one. This is what a believer appreciates. It is Personal Love and it is Sacrificial Love. In conclusion, I remind you that what Paul writes here are words of life and truth. I pray you will understand and appreciate them in your heart this very day. To quote another of Albert Midlane’s powerful hymns:
Lord when I think upon the love Which Thou to me hast shown, To die upon the cross, that Thou Mayest claim me for Thine own. I cannot tell why Thou didst show Such love to one like me, Save that it is, that I might know I owe it all to Thee.
There is no goodness in myself, To win such precious love; I loved Thee not – Thou lovedst me, And called me from above: I heard Thy voice, it won my heart, And bade my doubtings flee. It gave me rest and peace – O yes, I owe it all to Thee.
And still upheld by power divine, I urge my way along, In haste to reach the promised rest, The bright, glad home of song, And then when glory on me bursts, And I Thy glory see, Again I’ll raise the happy song, “I owe it all to Thee”.